237 thoughts on “Expectations”

      1. Like most things Baptist sin is implied, and when one is not in their midst it (sin) surly must be assumed, because it “appears” they are not assembling themselves with the saints as they are “expected” to.

        1. @Phil & Don… the implication is that as a pastor, expecting your members to be in church is somehow wrong, thus sinful. Thinking in nuanced ways is hard for the simple-minded, I get that. Try to put your thinking caps on next time, okay guys?

        2. “Doctor” Tim. What verse is that you’re quoting? I’m looking and looking, but I can’t seem to find it. Help me professor.

        3. Yeah, I’m still looking for the verses what require one to meet in a brick and mortar or glass and steel (or some other combination) ediface each week. I’m also looking for the passage that requires attendance at the thrice weekly lecture series as well.

        4. Wow, that went from a simple question to personal insults fast. Good job questioning what “Sin” is, Tim, and being unkind while doing so. 🙄

    1. It’s presumed / implied lack of grace and presence of “or else…” that prompts the reaction you see here. I, along with many others here, were at “be here every time the doors are open!” churches where this was the implicit mantra. Never again will I submit to this sort of legalistic nonsense!

      1. I’ll call out fundies just like the rest, but expecting faithfulness to attend worship is not a fundy concept, nor is it legalistic. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is Biblical.

        Having said that, I’m not of fan of this type of use of church signs, and also don’t believe faithfulness means “three to thrive.” Sometimes you have other things you have to, or would like to do and it isn’t a sin if you aren’t there every time the doors are open.

        I do, however, find regular fellowship, worship, and ministry with your local church to be a necessary component of the Christian life. If you compartmentalize your time with your church to Sunday morning, then you are missing out!

        1. I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with the first little bit there. I believe the spirit of what is being said is very legalistic and not at all Biblical.

          We are the church, not some building. We get to gather together out of true affection for each other as Father knits us together, we don’t have to get together for some service because some mog behind a pulpit says so.

          I think you only have to tell people they’re “expected” to be somewhere if they’d truly rather not be there. Coercion through guilt and shame does not build true community. If you have to threaten (even passive-aggressively) people to come to what you’re doing, you don’t have something worth going to.

        2. Hebrews 10 is Biblical. Any organization, church or not, expects its membership to be active. That is a reasonable expectation for any organization to be able to survive.

          There is a problem if you are a part of a church you don’t want to attend regularly. I agree attendance shouldn’t be under coercion, but on the other hand, if you don’t want to attend regularly, you should leave all together a find a place and people you want to be around on a regular basis and clergy you don’t mind being in a position of authority.

          It is a knee jerk reaction to say expecting faithfulness is legalism. Legalism would be saying that I’m holier because I never miss a Sunday and don’t take vacations that interfere with church services. And yes, there are some people who feel that way, and are thus legalists, but you can’t draw that conclusion about this church based on this sign alone. 😀

        3. “if you don’t want to attend regularly, you should leave all together a find a place and people you want to be around on a regular basis and clergy you don’t mind being in a position of authority.” You are making a very good case for people not attending church, because one will never find a perfect church. Even if someone were to find a church with perfect doctrine and perfect pastor(or at least acceptable enough to please my biological GARBC-raised father), then the pastor might decide to leave. In such cases, there is no guarantee that he won’t be replaced by anything from a jerk to a pedophile. There is a God, He’s not the pastor.

        4. When a church takes attendance and sends out “we miss you” letters for services missed, and when all church volunteers are required to attend each and every service and conference (Three to Thrive, which can turn into Five to Thrive), it gets really pushy and ridiculous.

        5. Yes, I guess I am making the case for quitting all together in some cases. If I am not somewhat engaged with the congregation, I am either a half hearted disciple who is wasting my time or I’m in a place I don’t need to be for doctrinal or other reasons. Essentially, I believe everyone should be a part of a fellowship of believers they are committed to or just stay at home and save their energy. What good does it do to be half way committed to something? If a church is so unappealing that I don’t care to be more engaged than sporadic Sunday morning attendance, then I want to find a different one that inspires me to be a part of something special God is doing.

        6. Maybe the difference here is that I don’t see church as an organization that needs to survive. Church is people, how they gather is immaterial (to me). What I’m saying is that family/fellowship/community is something that I think is truly attractive to people. If you have to coerce people into attending (guilt, commitment, etc) then I would question what is really going on there.

        7. The bigger question is “Is church ‘membership’ biblical?” (at least in the way most denominations view it). My answer to that is “no”. Every believer is automatically a member of the true church (i.e. Bride of Christ)…and keeping membership rolls is found NOWHERE in the Bible. Remember, the early church (body of believers) met in peoples homes…and you can bet your bottom dollar that not all of the believers in any given city met in one home every week. “Members Expected” is nothing more than the MOG bringing the sheeple into subservience to himself.

        8. On the contrary Larry, my biological father was always attended every time the door was open. We would go to a certain congregation, attend for 3 services on Sunday, then again on Wednesday, plus any miscellaneous services during the week. Then we would get force-fed words like “icegesis” on top of roasted pastor for supper. We might attend like that for two or three years and then my dad would just decide that he had enough and would suddenly drag us to another church. In the most heartwrenching case, we left so suddenly that I was not even allowed to say goodbye to my best friend at the time. And how does an eight year old tell her friend, “My dad hates your pastor, so I will never see you again”? It’s not that we weren’t involved or didn’t show up for fellowship, it’s that my dad was a fundamentalist, raised GARBC, married in a Reformed Baptist church, had to use words like antinomianism and his knowledge of the Greek to prove that he had the best doctrine. Your statement elsewhere that “it doesn’t matter what you believe [from your reading of the Bible] reminded me a lot of him. And no, he didn’t care what anyone else believed, he would swear that THE PASTORS were the ones who were not interpreting the Bible in the correct, historical sense. Allegedly, *THEY* were the ones who taught unbiblical doctrines. *THEY* were the ones who were placing pre-trib raptures or infant baptism in doctrinal statements and then not letting him teach in the church. Ironically, he considers himself a Reformed Baptist. My apologies for comparing you to him (I don’t know you, just what you’ve written here). I know that as a pastor you know that crucifying the teaching elder isn’t necessarily the answer for creating a perfect church. Just please remember that not everyone has the luxury of preaching whatever they want from the pulpit, assuring that icegesis (which I am probably misspelling) and rough doctrines that we dislike are kept out. We can be committed to a congregation without joining. And again, there is a God, the pastor is not Him.

        9. Hebrews 10 is not a command to attend weekly services. Here is all it says:

          “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

          It’s not saying it’s a legalistic command that must be followed but that it is to a Christian’s benefit to meet with other Christians – to encourage one anither.

        10. Also, Larry, a lot of fundamentalist, conservative evangelical and Southern Baptist Churches won’t permit every one to serve in a meaningful way. These types of churches are typically only interested in young married couples who have children still living at home.

          Never married adults over the age of 30 are not permitted to serve in many churches.

          Never- married women over 30 years of age who are childless are not permitted to serve, or only in areas they may have no interest in such as baby nursery duty. Other than baby duty, kitchenette duty, or choir, women (esp singles) are not allowed to serve or do anything and some women have no interest in those roles.

      2. Josh, yes, it IS the implications behind the sign that many of us experienced for real: excessive demands, compulsory attendance, and a general lack of love and grace.

        1. Well, thankfully, I only live to please God, and not some random anonymous dude on the internet whose opinion matters not one bit. But if you’re trying to tell me that Hebrews 10 supports a “three to thrive” or “be there every time the doors are open” kind of legalism, you’re full of excrement of the bovine variety.

        2. The focus of that passage is that we are to provoke one another to love and good works. In order to do that we need to meet with one another, but the meeting is not done for it’s own sake. We run into problems when we think that meeting together is automatically going to result in edification and spiritual growth. That’s like thinking that living in the same house with your spouse will automatically improve your marriage. It won’t. Going to church won’t automatically improve your spirituality either. Provoking one another to love and good works will help you to grow both individually and corporately and in order to accomplish that, we are told not to abandon the gathering of the church.

        3. Re: “@ Josh… I guess follow God’s commands found in Hebrews 10 is “legalistic”…hmm.”

          Heb 10 does not contain a command that says all believers must meet together every week or else they are in sin.

    2. It’s the ‘or else’. And the expectation that non-attendance means something is wrong with the church member’s faith instead of that something may actually be up.

      I went missing from the end of Christmas Break one year of college all the way until the end of summer once. No calls, no emails, no inquiries to my family members in the church. I was treated like I’d rejected the Lord and then came to my senses when I came back… even after I explained I had been caring for an injured and newly-widowed grandmother during the class breaks when I would have visited and then the entire summer, well out of driving range of the church.

      Because Christians are supposed to be in the pews, not caring for homebound widows, apparently.

    3. It’s not sinful to expect church members to attend their church.

      But the Scriptural admonition is to “not forsake” the assembling of yourselves together. “Forsaking” something is much more than just missing once in a while; it is both a mental mindset as well as actions. When I married my wife, we pledge to “forsake” all others; that means (to me at least) that all other women are off limits.

      People do go out of their way to attend church, and it doesn’t hurt for the pastor to be grateful; in the two best churches I was ever in, the pastor routinely thanked the people for coming.

      On the other hand, as I wrote elsewhere, I’ve been in the “members expected” mentality; they were never thanked for coming; the pastor considered them “his” to “mold them” as he willed.

    4. The shift from encouragement (Heb 10) to expectation (that church sign, among others) is the shift from loving one another to binding heavy burdens for others to bear. It’s the expectation that makes the difference.

  1. “You should be here every time the church doors are open!”

    That’s what I grew up with, anyway.

    So basically, I was in church pretty much all day Sunday, from Mon. through Fri. at the church’s school, in church Wed. evening, on visitation Thurs. night and at bus visitation Sat.

    Yep, seven days a week without fail.

    And people wonder why we’re so isolated? That’s why.

    1. “You should be here every time the church doors are open!”
      😡 HATED THAT! I once had a visiting missionary guilt trip me into skipping my soon-to-be MIL’s birthday dinner so I could come to hear him preach again that night. She’s forgiven me and I’ve left that church.

  2. Was at a church that lived this, not just said it. Members were expected to just take the really long services; no concessions to an outside life, no realizing that they are doing the Lord’s supper, so the message could be shorter.

    Visitors were fawned over and made to feel special. There was never a word of thanks to the members for even showing up. I sat there many days thinking “I wish I was a visitor”

    1. And I’ll venture a guess that it wasn’t the visitors paying the pastor’s salary and supporting the church with their tithes and offerings.

        1. Well, what if I literally “stand on the Word” and all that happens is I become two inches taller.” Now what? I need answers.

    1. Don’t you mean ABWE? Although there is some overlap between the GARBC and ABWE, we are talking about 1200 churches all of which are independent from ABWE, which is an independent baptist faith mission. By the way, there are many churches within the GARBC that are beginning to sever ties with ABWE because they dropped GRACE.

        1. I’ve known about Ketcham’s crimes for almost 15 years, though I didn’t know his name until it hit our local news. I hadn’t seen this blog before…I’ll check it out when I have some extra time.

    2. Facts are, the GARBC is disintegrating, & they know it. Our church is a current member (though not for much longer, from the sounds of things), so our pastor gets monthly paperwork designed to show what kind of numbers the church is pulling. This group, known for protecting child molestors, has removed churches from the fellowship for something as innocuous as having a praise band!

      Currently, the membership of the GARBC is only 1200 churches, nationwide. They are slowly killing themselves off because of their ability to swallow camels & strain at gnats.

      Good riddance.

      1. I was born and raised in the GARB. When I was a kid our church was one of the biggest in the GARB. It may still be, though its lost at least 1/3rd of the membership. My parents still dutifully attend, but I don’t think they like it very much anymore.

        I think the days of booting churches for praise bands is long gone though. Lots of GARB churches are going to a contemporary service to make it more appealing to the younger generation. So at my parents church, the older people hate the praise band and tolerate it to entice the younger crowd, but this isn’t really what’s making the younger crowd leave, or keeping them from visiting in the first place.

  3. Dear First Baptist:

    Martin Luther once posed this question:

    ‘Which is better — to be in church thinking about drinking beer at the alehouse, or to be in the alehouse, drinking beer while thinking on God’s praises in church?’

    Christian Socialist

      1. Dear StuartB:

        The good part is that this was Luther’s answer when some brothers approached him asking why he drank so much and saying that the amount of time he spent in pubs was an embarrassment to them …

        Christian Socialist

    1. What, are you a Mason? 😈

      Or maybe you have an … agenda. 😕

      Or maybe you’re just a heathen devil pagan Christian like me. :mrgreen:

  4. True story….special guest speaker brought entire ‘guilt’ sermon on being in church EVERY TIME the doors are open..made everyone stand up at the end of the service to ‘commit’ to this…..Pastor gets up and announces that Sunday evening services were be cancelled because he was going to visit his mother….Special speaker gets up and then lays it on us that since the pastor had made a special exception that it was ok, and that we should all go home and enjoy our day with our family….huh?

    1. I’m surprized that the guest speaker didn’t tell you that since the pastor wasn’t going to be there, that you all needed to find another IFB church and faithfully attend Sundays evenings.

        1. Nothing is wrong with faithfully attending Sunday night services — there is much wrong with coercing people to do it. We are supposed to be transformed by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, not conformed to this world, but neither should we be conformed to someone else’s opinion of how we should act.

          I’m very grateful that when I was a young Christian and only attending Sunday morning that no one jumped all over me about not being there Sunday night and Wednesday night. The Holy Spirit used the closing AM prayer — it was often prayed “…and, Lord, bring us back safely tonight” — to convict me and I began to attend Sunday nights.

        2. @Guilt Ridden – So, when Paul instructs Timothy to rebuke and exhort with all authority, that means what exactly? Is a pastor ever to press someone on the area of attendance, be it Sunday AM or PM? Or is he simply to affirm you in all that you do?

        3. I’d add to what Guilt Ridden said that I think Sunday morning services should also be free of human coercion.

          There was a rash of kids leaving out of the youth group at the church I grew up in.

          The kids who stayed despite disagreements and/or immediately found other places to attend when they left were the ones who had not been forced by parents to attend services past about middle school.

          The ones who fled to nowhere had been forced to attend and their fleeing was almost universally triggered by gaining a personal vehicle and being permitted to leave home Sunday morning in it.

          The only forced-to-attends I knew of who remained in church past high school graduation were two sets of former homeschoolers never permitted to leave the family caravan to services.

        4. @Tim – The Scriptures mean what they say. It could be that Timothy was not being taken seriously at his church (“let no man despise thy youth…”), so the emphasis here may will be on the “with all authority”. When Peter is writing to pastors, his #1 instruction for them was not to rebuke, nor to exhort, but to “feed the flock of God”

          Of course rebuking has its place, as does exhorting. Certainly members of a church should support it by their attendance. But it is much nicer when a pastor realizes and praises the people for coming out to the service; just a simple “Thank you for coming; seeing you hear is an encouragement to me” is much kinder than “Glad to see some of you sinners getting right and coming to the Sunday PM service”

          A pastor should preach the whole counsel of God, which includes Heb 10 where we are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Not to mention, as stated in I John 4-5, those who are born of God should love one another; going to church should be an anticipation to the child of God, not a burden. While everyone has good days and bad days, if going to church is always a burden to the member, he perhaps should examine his heart with the Holy Spirit’s help to find out why.

          It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict of sin; the pastor’s job is to “preach the word” and allow the Holy Spirit to work in lives; it is very important to be filled with the Spirit so that a pastor can sense when simple exhortation is becoming coercion and then back off; it should never be a pastor’s desire to coerce (or conform) the church members to his image; he should desire that they be transformed to God’s image.

          I’m enjoying the conversation with you very much – don’t go. Some of your criticism of SFL is, no doubt, valid.

        5. I have a contribution as I see this played out in my own family.

          The real issue here is one of spiritual formation. Protestant theology has turned discipleship into simply showing up in a building – maybe add in a dash of read your Bible and pray everyday. But this was not the model of the Church for many centuries. (Except for prayer).

          In practice, it looks like prioritizing the act of going to a church building over being the church.

          My dad has had 2 flailing marriages, but he is in that church for just about everything. Even tonight, he is at a church service instead of caring for his sick wife.

          Am I making any sense?

        6. Tim,

          You make some great points. I think American Christianity needs to take it to the next level and add a few more required services into the mix. We need a Wednesday men’s prayer fellowship at six a.m., missionary prayer band on Tuesday nights, Family Night every Friday, and Vespers every second Sunday afternoon. What’s wrong with expecting attendance to every activity or service? If the doors are open, you should be there. Who cares that it’s something that we made up ourselves?

  5. How dare you have a life outside of this congregation?!?! Don’t you know Jesus is only present inside the confines of the building, the services or church related activity?


    1. After I left the GARBC church where I had been a member for over 20 years, two things I gradually discovered were: God exists apart from the church and God exists apart from the Bible.

        1. Beavis, be assured I know what I am doing. I was a 2-3 times a Sunday church attender for 65 years. I stopped going because of health issues. To be honest, I don’t miss it at this stage of my life, and I’m enjoying myself reading and exploring theological topics in books and online.

        1. Tim, see the above post.
          P.S. I’m a Bible college graduate. In my 70+ years I’ve listened to thousands of sermons. There’s only one I remember.

        2. You’re a jerk. Go get some reading comprehension and come back when you’ve learned what assuming does to you.

  6. Oh, my! The GARBC is becoming secularized! There are women in the positions of treasurer, financial secretary and Sunday School superintendent in this church, and maybe a woman as trustee. In the GARBC church I was a member of for over 20 years only MEN could hold those positions of authority, because, you know, women were biblically inferior and prone to sin. How things have changed in the last decade.

        1. The pastor keeps using that word “expected” I do not believe he means it the way you think, he means it.

          It is more like something Don Corleone might say, “Someday – and that day may never come – I’ll call upon you to do a service for me.” The meaning is not explicit but rather an implicit understanding of what he is saying.

  7. nothing like being passive aggressive. I’ve said it before on this site and it bears repeating. 3 to thrive sheeple….3. to. thrive.

  8. this brings back some memories. i was raised in a GARBC church until i was about 12 years old. i remember sitting in sunday school and service from 8am until 2 in the afternoon while the pastor droned on about the old testament methods of preparing a burnt sacrifice. this had no present day application of course, but dammit, you’d better sit there and pay attention! every service was like that; educational, but never spiritually satisfying. finally, towards the end of our fundamentalist experience, when my mother had begun to see the ridiculousness of the whole thing, we began getting up and leaving the services early whenever they ran long (which they always did). at 12:15, like clockwork, our family would get up, shuffle out of our pew, and walk out the backdoor every sunday morning. from the looks and whispers of the rest of the congregation, you’d think we were the ultimate hell-bound sinners. only a heathen would dare leave church after only 4 hours, instead of staying for the full 6. it also didn’t help that we listened to music like the newsboys and dc talk (which featured drums, the devil’s instrument) and watched PG rated movies (the horror!)

    1. There is no excuse for this kind of teaching and preaching, especially when 12 yr. olds are present. It’s torture for most 12 year olds to sit that long! It certainly doesn’t help to keep them in church, when they become adults and have a chance to depart. However, the pastor, in this case, is more concerned about impressing the congregation with his knowledge than keeping the youth in church. Spiritual progress is equated with academics.

      Most of these churches will not acknowledge any progress in your life until you have met completely with their standards. So, many people just give up!

  9. I was raised in the IFB movement. My dad became an IFB pastor. He ruled the church and the home with intimidation, guilt, and fear. He was never hesitant to imply (or state) that someone who disagreed was eternally damned. Sadly, I took those learned behaviors into marriage 30 years ago and used guilt to motivate and manipulate my spouse. She, very wisely, ran off with another man. The marriage just lasted a couple of years. The takeaway for me is that pastors who use guilt and fear to motivate are planting the seeds of future divorce in the congregation’s youth. I never, ever use spiritual guilt or coercion to motivate my wife now. And we’ve been married for 24 years.

      1. I don’t think that I blame my dad or the IFB for my sins. I do believe, however, that we teach kids how to control others with this sort of behavior. It took me a painful divorce to even begin to learn that it was my guilt-using, controlling behavior that caused the divorce. I thank God for redemption, believe me. Thanks for the encouragement.

        1. I’m actually having trouble breathing, reading this. I don’t think you’re my ex, but it means….my ex could actually change for the better?? You’ve been a blessing to me today, Grad. I hope you have a beautiful day.

        2. @Stony, thank you for the encouragement. I stopped blaming my ex many years ago, and I realized that it was my controlling nature that drove her away. I used the scriptures to try to control. Over the decades I have come to believe that fundamentalist churches model a man controlling a woman. That brings great disfunction, and even encourages (perhaps unintentionally)criminal acts such as sexual assault. Rape is, after all, not a crime of passion but of control and dominance.

  10. What is amazing to me about posts like these is how many people come out of the woodwork who boldly claim that it is legalistic of a pastor to tell their members that they are expected to be in service. Hebrews 10:25 folks. Hebrews 10:25. Oh and lets not forget 10:26 which says “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left” or basically, you are unsaved. A true christian desires to be with God’s people and makes church, church membership and yes, church attendance a huge priority in their life. The writer of Hebrews says that if you forsake assembly deliberately and continuously, you may not be saved. The stakes are higher than just whether you come to church or not. Going to church is a huge indication of where your affections are. If your affections are not set on Christ and His bride, then you have not been transformed. Legalistic? I think not.

    1. bottom line Tim, if you don’t like church you will probably not like heaven. You know where the focus is on Christ and where there is singing and praise directed towards Him. Worthy is the Lamb.

      1. Amen. While I disagree with the heavy-handedness of the IFB movement and while I would never post this message in front of my church, as a pastor, I can understand this pastor’s frustration in attendance of members. It is also frustrating when you have people (like SFL administrator) implying that pastors who encourage and even rebuke church members for attendance issues, is somehow legalistic and thus our churches should be “disbanded”. This is antinomianism at its best and is in itself another form of legalism. I think posts like these destroy the churches and their shepherds credibility and propagate the sinful lie that a pastors call to shepherd his people, by pushing them to be in attendance at all services for their souls sake, is somehow legalistic and sinful. I understand alot of guys are abusive but lets not knee-jerk react against clear biblical teaching concerning the church, its leadership and its authority to reprove and rebuke.

        1. Maybe the pastor could talk to individual people personally.

          Maybe the pastor should rethink the number of services he is requiring of people.

          Maybe the pastor should check the quality of the service itself and see if something could be tweaked so people WANT to attend instead of having to be guilted into attending.

        2. @ pastors_wife – being with God’s people on His day is something Christians should “WANT” to do because they have been transformed by the Gospel, they love God and they love His bride, the church, not because of “tweeking” or any other superficial reasons.

        3. I would say the purpose of a pastor is to just keep pointing to Jesus and His amazing love and grace. OR, in your case, to troll on SFL and ‘reprove and rebuke’ us all.

        4. Tim, I agree that it is a good thing to be faithful in your church attendance; I also believe that a lot of times the pastor is more worried about his ego and preaching to a small crowd on Sunday evening and Wed night than he is the forsaking of the assembly. If most were honest with themselves they would admit that they take it personally when people don’t show up.

        5. @ Greg – I think this is presumptuous on your part. Who are you to judge the motives of another Christian (i.e. the pastor). What if he really was just taking his mandate in Scripture very seriously concerning caring for the souls of his people and knows that their being under the preached Word of God was the best thing for them (which it is!). Assuming that the pastor is merely concerned about “preaching to a small crowd” is very, very judgemental on your part.

        6. It would be a faulty assumption to think that someone isn’t coming out on Sunday night because they don’t love God or His bride or haven’t been transformed by the Gospel.

          Where two or three are gathered in His Name, He is there. Maybe Sunday night, people are meeting casually with their Christian friends, with their family, or even with their neighbors to make connections and share the Gospel.

        7. And, Tim, it’s judgmental on your part to assume that people are skipping services because they don’t love God or aren’t saved.

          Also, my husband is gentle and humble, but it IS disappointing to only have a few people out to a service. Most pastors DO want to have people out to hear what they’ve prepared. It doesn’t make them ego-crazed megalomaniacs, but it certainly does play a role.

        8. @Tim; much of this is in the presentation and attitude; it’s hard to take just one thing (such as attendance) into consideration.

          I was a member of a church that I liked very much; they took attendance seriously and removed people from membership who refused to attend. But never in the years that I went there do I remember the pastor shaking his finger in people’s face and telling that that God was going to “get them” for missing a service.

          If a pastor is feeding his people, and there is genuine love among the members, who wouldn’t want to be there?

          But when church is a time of boasting (“look how much better of a person I am than you – I had 7 saved this week”, or “I finished reading my Bible for the second time”, or when the members are constantly trying to improve their standing with the pastor by reporting sins of the others, people don’t want to come.

          When a pastor’s messages are all about rebuking people for everything he perceives them as doing wrong, people don’t want to come.

          I’ve been to services in which the pastor was upset by something, and so he let everyone have it. Yes, he was passionate and loud, but because it was all about him and what he thought about something and not based solidly upon the Scripture, it wasn’t edifying and it didn’t last.

        9. Tim, you sound like someone who has never truly experienced the full brunt of genuine IFB madness. The point is that making church attendance such an upfront issue is a clear sign of quiet desperation. Church services are so entirely one-sided, I’m not sure how you construe the desire not to hear the bloviator twice on Sunday is a sign of “antinomianism”. No one is suggesting that since we’re under God’s grace, we can skip church altogether.

      1. @ free2_be_me – tell me exactly how these verses should be interpreted then. Enlighten me, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon and pretty much every other reputable theologian for the pastor 2,000 years on how exactly these verses should be interpreted.

    2. Tim,
      People aren’t really objecting to the teaching of the need and requirement of church attendance. What they are objecting to is the idea that missing a church activity (sermon, bible study, fellowship, outreach, etc) is a sin. It isn’t.
      In a truly active church, it is impossible for a person to have a job and a family and still be present at every single church function. My church has activities most nights of the week and often has activities during the weekdays. It isn’t wrong for me to be unable to attend all those activities. I have a job, a family, and a house. It would be wrong to neglect those responsibilities to attempt to attend every one of the activities. A balance between your church and your family must be found. It is legalistic to claim that it is a sin to miss a church activity.

      1. @ Jaime – No. What most people here are arguing for is not just for church “activities” but for Sunday service. Hebrews 10 is clear. It IS a sin to forsake assembly. It is. Any reputable theologian is going to tell you the same thing. Deliberately missing church service for superficial reasons is sin. Plain and simple.

        1. First off, I don’t make a distinction between Sunday service and bible study or any other ministry based church activity. All are church activities that fall under the verse you mentioned. Sunday services are simply scheduled at a convenient time when the majority of church members are likely to be able to attend.

          Second, I don’t think “forsake assembly” means missing a single church service for whatever reason(superficial or otherwise).
          The definition of forsake is as follows:
          Abandon (someone or something)
          Renounce or give up (something valued or pleasant)

          Skipping a church activity doesn’t mean I’ve rejected or abandoned the church. To abandon or reject the assembly of believers I would need to completely stop attending and participating in the church. So NO. Skipping a Sunday service is NOT a sin. Completely abandoning (not just changing churches) the church, is a sin.

        2. Hebrews 10 is clear. It IS a sin to forsake assembly. It is. Any reputable theologian is going to tell you the same thing. Deliberately missing church service for superficial reasons is sin. Plain and simple.

          You couldn’t have gotten it more wrong if you had tried. Hebrews 10 does not give any detail regarding the manner or practice of assembling ourselves. There is no such thing as “Church service” mentioned anywhere in scripture. So, plain and simple, missing “Church Service” is not a sin. Good grief! Do you not see that you are making an idol out of the church building, and the so called church service? Your emphasis is on the “practice of church” rather than Jesus Christ and the Gospel. There is no sin in forsaking assembling merely for the sake of assembling.

    3. You are making one HUGE mistake: believing that as God’s child, I am still sinning. I john 1:9 tells me that since am relying on him for eternal life that he is faithful and just to forgive & cleanse. I dont have to try to merit his favor through church attendance, tithe, good works, or anything. GRACE, man…it’s all about God’s grace. Indeed, the reason to attend church is not to please God: that righteousness is filthy rags! Church is for the benefit of believers, not the duty of believers…and if the return on investment is not good, the benefits need to be sought elsewhere.

    4. “Going to church is a huge indication of where your affections are.”

      Good grief, @Tim, do you even read YOUR bible? Believers ARE the body of Christ. You speak as though going to a building is going to church.

      Wait! Could it be that the real rub is that if you don’t “GO to church” then the $750,000 mortgage on “the church” won’t get paid? Oh yea, the pastor won’t get paid either!

      You claim to be theologically superior to the rest of us lay-folks, but again, your arrogance betrays your ignorance.

    5. “What is amazing to me about posts like these is how many people come out of the woodwork …”

      Like you Tim? And beavis? I have never seen either of you post before but Praise God you are here now setting us all straight.

  11. @ free2_be_me – tell me exactly how these verses should be interpreted then. Enlighten me, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon and pretty much every other reputable theologian for the pastor 2,000 years on how exactly these verses should be interpreted.

    1. Tim, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. Unfortunately, your demeanor on this thread serves little more than to confirm the experiences of many here, that fundamentalists are rude, arrogant, and small-minded. In response to your question, the position you take is realtive to a great many assumptions which you have not made clear. For example, you are going to have to come to terms with the complete absence of church membership in the New Testament. You are also going to have to come to explain how you get, logically, from “gathering together” to church attendance. You see, the text in Hebrews is fairly plain, and it doesn’t say “attend church regularly”. Such an injunction might be a good idea, and one that I wouldn’t disagree with, but that is not what this text says. Furthermore, you are going to have to explain how it is that you interpret this as law – a legal requirement. There is an entire paradigm at work here which you haven’t questioned. Just some things to think about.

      1. @ Dr. – Explain to me why this is the way it has been interpreted since the reformation? What exactly does “forsaking assembly” mean? How exactly is defying this benefit you in any way?

        1. Tim,
          Riddle me this: “Does the passage in Hebrews 10 proscribe the setting or manner in which the body assembles?” Where is the requirement that the body of believers meet in a building for a lecture in that passage?
          How much of what is practiced today merely man made traditions? What makes a group meeting in a large building, in order to hear a lecture,on Sunday and Wednesday, superior to three or four individuals gathering for a meal on any day of the week and discussing the Gospel and sharing fellowship with one another?

    2. I believe that verse 26 is directed at those who have heard and rejected the Gospel, ie, it is not directed at Christians. I also don’t believe that Christians have to go to church lest they be thought of as unsaved. I believe that it is faith in God that saves. My not going to church ( which I currently don’t) doesn’t make me any more unsaved than your uncharitable remarks in this comments section.

      1. @free – I don’t care what “you believe”. Give me the correct interpretation of the text and please cite your sources. Also, please don’t go down the “uncharitable remarks” road. I could go down the “judgmental” road just as easily with you. Let’s keep the discussion intelligent and not emotional. Thanks.

        1. Is this an example of the intelligent, non-emotional discussion you prefer?:

          “Thinking in nuanced ways is hard for the simple-minded, I get that. Try to put your thinking caps on next time, okay guys?” (Tim from further up the thread)

        2. @ free – actually, I am not an IFB pastor. I am a historic, reformed Baptist pastor who is tired of antinomianism. Repent man.

        3. @ pastors_wife – Just pointing out the truth sister. Try responding to the issue at hand okay?

        4. @Tim–in order to keep this discussion intelligent and not emotional, could you please not refer to others as “man,” “sister,” or “bro” (down thread).

        5. Ok Tim, where in the Hebrews 10 passage does it tell us the manner, location and/or type of assembly is to take place?
          Where do you get the idea that such assembly has to be in a building at all? Since the “Where” is not specified then what about the “How?” Nope, that’s not there either.
          Let’s see, is there even a requirement that an elder be present at every meeting? Hmmmm, not mentioned. (but if the pastor isn’t there preaching then how can he justify that paycheck?) Oh that’s right, scripture is abundantly clear regarding the plurality of elders and not the one pastor/ruler template. And then again I thought that Jesus was pretty specific regarding how Church leaders were to act, “But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,.” hmmmm, That’s a far cry from the pulpit tyrants that occupy the office in most single ruler administrations. I mean the last one we profiled on SFL wasn’t even a Fundie in the way we define IFB but he lorded his position over all those he called out in that sermon because “He was somebody.”

          No, so-called church service attendance is not required by scripture, but Christian fellowship is. If you don’t know the difference then maybe you should put on your “Thinking Cap” there sport.

    3. Perhaps the author of Hebrews is talking about the potential return to the cultic sacrificial practices of the newly formed “church” (not that that term is used in Hb. 10). These people are being advised against returning to sacrificial practices in the Temple, aganist which the christian assemblies had been established.

      “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire”

      “He sets aside the first to establish the second”

      “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins”

      Look where the exhortation to continue the assembly is placed, it’s right in the middle of a discussion about the inadequcy of the cultuic rights of sacrifice.

      Schwager, Alison, Girard, Heim, Hardin, Long, T., & Swartley among others for commentary.

  12. Tim, reading your posts reminds me of why a lot of genuine Christians just don’t go to church any longer. Your posts ooze self-righteousness, arrogance, and theological pomposity. You, pastor, are in love with yourself.

    1. @ Bald – How exactly are your presumptions and judgments on my character any less “self-righteous, arrogant and pompous”? How exactly is pushing people to go to church and saying that the Scripture supports it a bad thing? No, Bald, I think you are simply making excuses for yourself and the other rebels who would rather blame their sin issue on the church and its pastors, than actually repent.

        1. Yes I’m simply making excuses for myself and the other rebels who would rather blame their sin issue on the church and its pastors, than actually repent. I see the real wisdom behind what you’re trying to do here and now I repent. Now please everyone let’s quit talking to the Troll.

        2. See, this is why I hate sites like theses… you have a bunch of people whining about how they were wronged by IFB churches and pastors (many times legitimately by the way), but when you try to point out that sometimes God’s Word does in fact have a standard and does in fact have rules to live by, you are labeled a legalist and attacked personally. Folks, I am not about abusive pastors, or even in support of what this church did in posting this message on their sign, but I am for devoting church members who see a need for “not forsaking” being together. I think sites like these promote rebellion and antinomianism which is another form of legalism in and of itself. Its not wrong to show the problems with the IFB or whatever group, but when it leads to blatant disregard of clear and proven teaching of the Bible, or demotes the church and true biblical pastors, there is a problem.

        3. Tim – I haven’t seen anyone seriously arguing against gathering with other believers in a community being something that Christians ought to do.

          What I have seen is people arguing that your idea of appropriate methods to bring that about is. And that there isn’t a set-in-scripture definition of how often that is required to happen. Or that there needs to be a wider definition of ‘gathering with other believers in a community’ than ‘I sat in the pew, listened quietly, and no one really cared I was there except when they counted heads’ (been there).

        4. Tim, If you hate sites like these, then why are you here. Are you here to pick a fight?

      1. Tim, do you think it would be appropriate for my wife to post a sign on our bedroom door stating, “Love me as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it?” After all, it’s a scriptural command, and it’s something she should expect of me. Do you think having a sign would be appropriate?

  13. Tim, sorry for being judgmental (must be some of the old IFB coming out)However most IFB pastors would have made better eye doctors because they love to talk about “I” instead of Him. I apologize I know it is not right to be so judgmental…I have never seen your Sun night or Wed night crowd.

      1. Tim, I hope that you did not miss the sarcasm in my apology…because you sir sure do come off like a jerk! I think your time would be better served praying for all of us sin blaming rebels.

        1. He’s not a jerk. He’s very smart. As you can tell by his picture of himself reading a book in front of a big bookcase.

  14. Pastor Tim, I’m sorry for being an ass back to you earlier. Please accept my apology.
    Imagine for a moment, a widow or an orphan displaying a sign out in front of their dwelling, “Dear pastor, if you believed in the true religion, you’d be here visiting right now.”
    It is the weight and burden pastors put on people that is the problem. This isn’t edification, this is manipulation. If you can’t see the difference, I’d suggest you step out of the pulpit for a while to consider your heart before the Lord.

    1. @ John – Couple things… you are promoting what James wrote concerning widows and orphans and completely negating what the writer of Hebrews wrote in chapter 10. They two completely different issues. Context man. Also, who are you to imply that I believe church attendance is more important than visiting widows and orphans. I do this on a regular basis. You know that those people who are confined to nursing homes and hospital beds say to me almost every time I visit them though? “I wish I could come to church to be with my church family”. Food for thought man.

      1. He’s making a comparison: a pastor putting a demanding sign in front of his church could be compared to a widow putting a demanding sign in front of her home.

        And he didn’t say that you didn’t value visiting widows and orphans. He is concerned that you might not understand the difference between edification (encouraging people to attend services because they DO need to hear the Word of God) and manipulating them.

      2. What is it, @Tim, with “Pastor” anyway? I know of no Scripture, Hebrew 10 or otherwise, that elevates any single man (no manner how gifted) above any other member of Christ’s body. Further, the way this title is used denotes a one-man rule mentality which is nowhere to be found on the pages of the New Testament, hence the oft ignored Apostolic teaching and tradition of a plurality of elders.

        Now, if you are mirroring the Old Testament law (and not the law of Christ) in the setting up of a priestly class (Pastors), then just be honest and say so.

        1. Excellent point. There is no description in scripture of what is commonly regarded as the office of the pastor. Jesus is the head of the church, no man.

    2. John, I also felt that pressure to always be in my seat when the doors were open. We never let our kids play sports or do things at school that may have caused us to miss a Wed night service. Now looking back it seems that I cheated my kids out of childhood activities that they would have enjoyed. Now that I have been out of the pastorate for a few years now I am finally realizing that some of the things that I thought were so bad are not and some of the things that were so important were not. Praise God that I have been set free form the burden of IFB law

    3. Speaking of widows–I had family that skipped (gasp!)Sunday evening services about 1x a month to have a service at the home of different shut-ins, often also a widow. The Pastor (never say Mr.) OWNED Sunday evening and if you wanted to do that compassion stuff, fit it in on your own time. Also, disagreeing with him was considered disagreeing with God. Eventually, he made a campaign to get rid of them (he admitted it) but they were going anyway. The “pastor” left when the money ran out (the money was drained in a number of questionable ways). Some other sucker church took him right away. We’re waiting for news… 🙁

      1. I used to (sarcasm alert) LOVE the fact that our family was Expected to be in the church building Sunday morning for Sunday School, serve in children’s church, gather up the 8 kids, and travel home for a harried lunch, then bundle everyone up to travel back to the church for choir practice, evening service, and often a youth activity, singspiration, afterglow, etc.

        After returning home late Sunday night, and putting everyone to bed, I’d get a few hour’s sleep before my 6 day workweek began anew. Meanwhile, the pastor was “off” on Mondays, and his day of relaxation was inviolate. All staff members had a day off every week (their own private sabbath), and paid for their service to the church.

        We, who served for free, paid for the privilege to serve through our tithes and offerings, and never got a sabbath rest. And you have the temerity to say ‘Members Expected’, and call it sin if we miss a service? To hell with that. (Literally, btw)

  15. I think it’s interesting that this very public sign is written for two audiences but read by both. Sure, the “seeker” may get warm and fuzzy thinking that he/she is welcome there (where AREN’T visitors welcome?) but how does that “expectation” message look to the seeker? (Come and visit, but if you hang around for a while, we’ll start putting expectations on you.) Why not preach to the choir when just the choir is together and leave the public announcements for the public?

  16. Why is it okay to openly shame and mock IFB pastors for their legalism, but when people are called out for their antinomianism they call it “uncharitable; unloving; etc”. Hypocrisy at its best.

  17. Could some one help me find the membership requirement passage in scripture? I can’t seem to find it. I keep running into 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 and 3 John. I just can”t seem to find that membership form in scripture. Surely there is something in scripture mandating attendance at the thrice weekly lecture series?? Anyone?

    1. Hey Don, I could not help but notice this Tim pastor fellow has been avoiding your multiple questions for him.

      Your posts have addressed this issue very thoughtfully and it is a shame they are being ignored.

  18. Church signs are always good for a laugh. Saw a new one today “Manufacturers recall soon – Are you ready?” which I assume is about the rapture. Of course a recall is when the manufacturer screws up and makes something dangerous or ineffective.

  19. I can’t find anywhere in the bible that says we have to meet on a Sunday at all. The sabbath was Saturday. While I know it does say the early Christians met on the first day of the week, it never teaches that we must continue to do so. Not forsaking the assembling together does not mean that you have to meet in a certain building at a certain time to listen to a lecture from a certain man. We should continue in relationship with other Christians and encourage each other in spiritual matters, as well as life in general.

    That didn’t happen much in my fundy church. We were there lots but the communication was one sided.

    1. Even more fun is there is some obscure verse in the OT–someone will know it–that supposedly justifies Wednesday night prayer meeting because it refers to the Jews doing some sort of thing on the “fourth day of the week.”

  20. I believe that we have an innate tendency to judge our own spiritual progress against other peoples. Church attendance is a very easy way but not necessarily a very meaningful way of rating our fellow believers.

  21. This brings back bad memories of being interrogated by the pastor of the church where I taught school as to why I was missing so many Sundays. (I was depressed and in all ways exhausted.) But the kicker was the time I let him know I’d be out of town the next Sunday – visiting friends – and he told me to bring back a bulletin SIGNED BY THE PASTOR. I laughed before I realized he wasn’t joking. Yeah, that didn’t happen. 🙄

    1. Yeah, our pastor used to pull out Sword of the Lord (or whatever it was called) and give you the page that listed all the churches. He would highlight the ones on your family’s vacation route. He didn’t check up on us, but he “strongly encouraged” us to attend “churches of like faith and order.” (But the IFB is NOT A DENOMINATION.)

      1. It’s not a denomination. A denomination has appropriate measures in place to hold criminals in positions of authority accountable for their actions.

        A not-a-denomination allows the church to quietly let the perp go to prey on another church and wring their hands and say oh dear, what a pity, we can’t do anything about it.

  22. “I have a theory that any group that has to browbeat its members into attending its meetings should probably be disbanded.”

    That’s certainly true about the schools I went to from first through twelfth grade– they had to browbeat us into attending, and I would be happy if they were disbanded.

  23. When a church is loving and warm and genuinely invested in the lives of the members, attendance is a joy and not something that needs veiled threats. People who want to be there will be. People who have to be manipulated are probably on their way out, OR will attend but out of obligation and not from a place of joyful worship. 😐

  24. I believe IFB pastors are sometimes their own worst enemies. A statement which appears cute from one perspective may be offensive from another. As a pastor I encourage attendance at every regularly scheduled worship service, however, I strive to make every service one that exalts the Lord and will help the believers. I try to be respectful of the time and schedules of our members. (Our church has 90% of the Sunday Morning attendance present on Sunday Evening and about 85% for our midweek service.) It may help that instead of just yelling at them on Sunday I have taken time to mow grass for members who are sick, cared for gardens while they are on vacation, fed animals, helped with farm work, even buried a dog for a distraught member. There is more to pastoring than 2 hours on Sunday! Maybe I’m not really IFB?!

  25. And let us not forget the family that always prides themselves on attending church at ANOTHER IFB church anytime the church of their membership cancels a service for some reason. 2-3 times a year, we would have a Sunday morning service, dinner, and then an afternoon service (filled with gas and snores but whatever). There was a “missionary” family (who attended our church all the time and the wife worked in a local bank but the husband still drew full-time missionary support) in our church who would make a big show the next Wednesday evening of “where did YOU go to church last Sunday night” to prove the point that they went somewhere for “Sunday evening preachin'” and other vital spiritual enrichment.

    1. AND any time they go out of town for any reason! I can’t even count up the times I had to listen to my parents grousing about the IFB church we’d visited on vacation and about how it wasn’t “separated” enough or “godly” enough and how they just couldn’t wait to get back home to their own church.

      1. Yes, our preacher used to encourage members when they came back from vacation to share with the rest of the church how we were really one of the only true churches left that still did everything right, etc., etc. Many of the “other churches are basically crap” stories seemed to me to be pretty exaggerated. One that sticks in my mind was a story about an IFB church at which the pastor supposedly wore a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and cowboy boots to a Wednesday evening service.

  26. I believe that our friend Timmy may be the Tim Howard who is the associate pastor at http://calvarybaptistwindsorlocks.org/ . I have had a look at the Articles of Faith and came up with this joke quote:

    We believe the scriptures teach that the first day of the week, Sunday, is the Lord’s Day and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes by the devout observance of the day.
    (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1,2; Hebrews 10:25).

    Ok, let’s look at this:

    Acts 20:7 states “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”

    Ok, so here you can see that they were meeting to hear Paul talk on the first day of the week. It does not say that Sunday is the Lord’s day. It does not say that they habitually met on this day, that we should habitually meet on this day, or even that they habitually met to listen to lectures from a specific speaker. It does state that Paul was leaving town the next day, which could quite clearly account for why they were meeting to hear him and why they were meeting on that day.

    1 Corinthians 16:1,2 states “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”

    Ok, so here we see that people are supposed to put some money aside each week so there wouldn’t be a big love offering when Paul comes. It would be nice if fundy churches obeyed that. They were being asked to put money aside because the church in Jerusalem needed help, not to build up a local church or pay a local pastor. The passage does not state that they had to meet together to do this or hand the money over on this date; just that each person should put some money aside on this day. Is Calvary Baptist actually trying to claim that they are fundraising for a now non-existent church on the other side of the world and that they absolutely have to meet together in order to do it?

    Hebrews 10:25 states “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

    So what? We should continue to meet together. It doesn’t say we have to meet on the first day of the week. It doesn’t say that the first day of the week is the ‘Lord’s Day’ – in fact, not one of those three verses did. That church wouldn’t be lying to everybody, would they??? It doesn’t say that we have to meet on Sunday. It doesn’t say we have to meet weekly. It doesn’t say that in order for our meeting to be legitimate, we need to sit on pews and listen to somebody lecture us.

    Also, I think it’s interesting to note Colossians 2:16, which states “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” So I think it’s clear that arguing over which days on which we are to meet is, in itself, unbiblical. Sure, we have examples where the early church did meet on a Sunday, but there is never a commandment that we must also meet on a Sunday.

    I would just like to say that I believe it is important for christians to meet together. I also think it is important for christians to encourage each other to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24) and I have found this sadly lacking in many of the churches I have attended, where the encouragement was to obey dry rules and give off the right appearance instead of showing genuine love to hurting people.

    As far as the original image goes – when an expected member is not present, are they judged or do people go to them and ask if anything’s wrong, do they need help? Some people who miss church do so because they’re going through hell, and it’s the church’s job to show them love.

    1. Sabbatarian? That explains a whole lot. This is not even a fundy issue, that is prevalent even in wider evangelical churches.

      I do believe there is something significant about the worship service, the body (local manifestation) coming together, called out for the worship of God. What I don’t believe is that specifically when, how, where, that is really is prescribed. Had a pastor once ask me how important it was to attend on sunday night. I told him I thought it was important because we had one, but that if the church elected to do something different or operate on a different schedule I didn’t think the specifics were that important.

      In fact, I have a friend who works 3rd shift, and he would try to come Sunday night, and basically start the week off by missing an entire night of sleep. Not a healthy practice, and my current church actually has a Saturday night service for exactly that purpose, nurses, doctors, firemen, shift workers, it gives them an opportunity to be part of the gathering of the body for worship. Its not a large service, most people attend one of the Sunday ones, but it is a way to enable and encourage not just attendance (which in many fundy circles is the most important metric) but participation, it pulls people into the purpose and calling of the church body and removes barriers that might place them on the outside. Also, if we are being biblical, technically the “saturday evening” service is actually on Sunday if we follow 1st Century Jewish methods of marking time.

      It is similar to the ideas of wearing “sunday best” or other external measurements to determine what is and is not “honoring to God” – true worshippers worship in Spirit and Truth – the worship of the Father, the one true God is accomplished through the ministry of the 2nd and 3rd persons of the Trinity, The Word should be the focus of the worship service throughout, and the Spirit’s power is the driving motivation for it, including the motivation to be there. If a pastor/church is actually doing this, there will be growth, not numbers per se, but the people will be growing because the Word does not return void and the Spirit works through it. When a church has to resort to pragmatism, coercion, or psychological manipulation and browbeating to get people get with the program then what they have is a program of human effort, will, and spirit that will always require such human motivations to maintain and effect it.

      1. That reminds me a lot of how the ‘you are now old enough to start having a daily quiet time with God’ push during middle school absolutely fell apart at my church.

        First problem was that the entire thing was planned around morning people. Anyone who joined the evening group instead was told that it would be so much better to ‘start the day with God’s word’ and couldn’t we just wake up earlier (when some of us were barely making the school bus and our mothers had plans for any time we might gain by waking up earlier).

        Second problem was the accountability phone tree. Worked great for the morning people. Not so much for the group stuck negotiating different dinner times and ‘no you may not use the phone this late at night’. Their tree lasted more than a week, ours fell apart around Day 3.

        Third problem was that if the phone call didn’t come, they had their quiet time in a set routine in getting ready for school. We didn’t have that set up because the evening group was not encouraged to link it to getting ready for bed.

        And fourth problem was that we had no real guidance in how to figure out what Bible reading plans would work for us. All we had was ‘start at the beginning’ or if you were lucky someone in the family got Brio and there was a four passage a day plan there. Also no real idea of how much beyond the usual ‘Bible In A Year’ goal expectation which is for adults not middle schoolers.

        So it pretty much fell apart for everyone, and it was totally our fault for not trying hard enough for God when we weren’t morning people, were slow readers, or needed a different reading plan to help us keep focus.

        And every time I try to start having a quiet time again that might work for me, the memory of that attempt makes me feel like I’m doing it wrong even when it’s working for me.

        Sometimes we focus so much on setting a right way to do something and encouraging everyone to follow that pattern that people end up not doing it at all – me and the quiet time issue, people who can’t get to a Sunday morning service awake ending up not going to a service at all, witnessing guidelines that go completely against particular personality types…

    2. I’d been thinking about Colossians 2 all night. For those KJV only, its pretty clear:

      16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days….
      20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
      21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
      22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

      Back in my fundy days I had a hard time with those verses. I don’t remember ever hearing this passage preached on either. Which is hard to believe since I too was in the church whenever the doors were open 😉

      1. Thats because that passage is a dagger in the heart of the man-centered, guilt-laden, performance churchianity common in Fundy circles. If your Mog doesn’t preach on a passage then it must not be important.

      2. Well put. Forgive me for the length of this quote, but I think The Message really expresses this portion of Colossians 2 quite beautifully –

        6-7 My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

        8-10 Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.

        11-15 Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it’s an initiation ritual you’re after, you’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.

        16-17 So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.

        18-19 Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They’re a lot of hot air, that’s all they are. They’re completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us. He is the Head and we are the body. We can grow up healthy in God only as he nourishes us.

        20-23 So, then, if with Christ you’ve put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? “Don’t touch this! Don’t taste that! Don’t go near this!” Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they’re just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important.


        1. A remarkable translation of Col. 2 indeed. I wonder if it is capturing the authors intent, becasue it jars somewhat with other previous translations that reinforce much of the superstition in christianity, which this translation seems to be severly critical of!

          Anywyas, I don’t think that would be in any way convincing to the fundmentalists, who would easily (that is, without consideration) dismiss this with a wave of the KJV hand.

        2. I love the Message. But, I agree with Phil…its pages would rather be used as kleenex by most IFB. I was once told by an IFB missionary that the most important thing he could impart on people was the importance of picking a Bible translation and then had a long talking to on why the KJV should be that translation.

  27. I just want to say I am sorry to all of you if I have been unloving in my commentary here. I want to make it clear that while I do disagree with many of you in your interpretation of Hebrews 10, and with some of your views on the importance of the church and its pastors, I do agree with all of you in regards to pastors being way out of line and judgemental on the issue of attendance. As a pastor, I only want what is best for my people. I believe that is fellowship and love surrounded by the sacred Word of God. I am not an IFB pastor by any means. I am actually, reformed, 5-point Calvinist, and one of the biggest fighters against legalism and abusive pastors. I have been abused by pastors both as a layman and as a pastor and I can tell you, it hurts. I have been ostracized for this very issue of church attendance by a pastor whom I loved and trusted. So believe me, I hear all of what you are saying. So, all this to say, I think we started out on the wrong foot here and I want to make ammends. I forgot that speaking in a loving way , even when you disagree, goes way further than mean and hateful speech. It dishonors God and brings more shame to Christianity than worsed IFB pastor. So, please, I ask that you give me another chance. Please dont take my sin out on my ministry or what we teach and stand for. I hope my future comments will be more God glorifying.

    1. I think it took courage to write that, Tim; it would have been easier to walk away without saying anything. I appreciate your point of view, even if I don’t agree with you on everything; sounds like there is much common ground. You’ll find that not many here are in lockstep with most other members on most issues, but that’s what makes it interesting sometimes.

    2. Welcome aboard. As KoB said that took courage.
      You’ll find we are a diverse lot.
      Join us over in the forums and you will learn more about us, our back stories, where we came from and where we are at now.
      So we welcome you aboard “The Black Pearl of Great Price Before Swine” glad to have you sailing with us.

    3. Well said Tim, very courageous indeed!
      I applaud your bravery.

      KodofBored is right, you could just have walked away, but you have shown great kindness.

      1. I think so, too, Red. 😕 Strikes me as the type to “apologize” so he can stay around & convert us to his way of thinking.

        But I’m pretty jaded. 😐

  28. I grew up in a GARBC church. Correction: my church was GARBC-affiliated until we (under the holy, infallible leadership of the MOg) concluded it was too liberal & we must withdraw. It got really weird after that… 👿

  29. I’m very very discouraged that there are so many people out there who seem to think that a Pastor’s job is to nag people to perform certain rituals. Yes, rebuke and exhort – to love one another. To serve one another. To take care of the poor and vulnerable, to visit widows in their affliction. To preach the Gospel – that Christ Jesus came to this world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

    If your energy is spent on the mere gospel of attending church, what a poor gospel indeed you preach. May God save both you and your congregation from such an empty powerless message. May God open your eyes to the richness of His grace and the depth of His love.

    1. Dear Clara English:

      I’m very, very encouraged that there are so many people out there who seem to think along the lines that you indicate. Well done! You go, girl!

      Thanks for the post!


      Christian Socialist

      1. Well, you’re right there, CS – there’s the glass half full approach too. I need to remember that the mainline liturgical denominations far outnumber the crazy stripe of “christianity” I was raised in.

  30. You must really need a bash ’em fix when you can’t see the humor intended by this sign.

    And it is scriptural that you are expected to assemble together for your own good and for the good of your fellow saints.

    Hebrews 10:25 (NASB)

    25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

  31. I find the GARBC bashing funny (ironic). On another site I was told in no uncertain terms that GARBC is NOT IFB and here it is lumped right in with the IFB world. Makes me wonder what roster the IFCA gets put on.

    People are so funny.

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